Sunday, November 10, 2013


Bluebell Railway at Sheffield Park Station. Remembrance Day 2013

It was a lovely sunny day - we just had to go out.
But plans had to be changed - because it was such a lovely day.
We decided to go for a  walk round Sheffield Park Gardens for the fantastic autumn colours.
Thousands of others decided that too.
The sign at the driveway told us that the car park was full. People were queueing in some forlorn hope that there might still be one more space for them.
We abandoned that game!
Very close by is Sheffield Park station, one end of the Bluebell Railway.
We paid for a station ticket ride on the train today.
The station tickets have gone up in price since our last jaunt; we paid £5 each - but not too bad for the pleasure.
At Sheffield Park there is a good museum as well as engine sheds and of course the steam locos in and out of the station.
We arrived to find the "special" waiting at the platform.
It is nominally pulled by The Golden Arrow, though the steam locomotive that pulled the trains from London to the channel port at Dover was much larger and sturdier than the little green engine of today.

They took on an extra driver this morning. I am so pleased that he was welcomed aboard for a short while.

The special train provides an opportunity for special celebrations - a fine champagne lunch whilst chuffing through the Sussex countryside.
Something to dream of.....and for us will remain a dream, I think. The meal is £46 and the travel is £23.
I can only guess all that was being celebrated today.
Today has been a day for celebrating (perhaps the wrong word) the lives of those millions who suffered and died and millions of others who suffered and lived their lives with that suffering during the wars that leaders of the world have led folks into since time immemorial. Some can find ways of justifying those wars and the deaths and the suffering; I find that difficult.
But I can't argue with the sentiments of remembrance.
The Bluebell Railway also remembered.

The picture needed some touching angle was straight into the low sun.

The tables are set for lunch and the diners are all aboard.

But, the diners must wait a while.
On the footplate men are finishing their cups of tea.

Time to leave Sheffield Park Station.

Meanwhile other steam locomotives were coming and going.

A train was hauled in by a huge black loco travelling backwards.
I am certain that information can be supplied about the locomotive by my brother.
Note that a token on a ring is being handed by the driver to a member of the station staff.
That was always a highlight of childhood steam train trips to visit my grandparents in Tunbridge Wells. It was a single track rail and  batons were exchanged at each station on the route to ensure that only one train at a time was on the track.
Having come in backwards a certain amount of shunting was needed.

Soon the loco was at the front of the train ready to pull the carriages, filled with happy passengers all the way to East Grinstead.

The driver, oily rag in hand, waits for the whistle and green flag waved by the guard.

We then looked round the excellent museum.

Another opportunity for play.

This exhibit is the signal box from Withyham.......on that familiar line to Tunbridge Wells.

An enthusiast bought it many years ago, complete with fixtures and fittings for the princely sum of £2 and ten shillings.

I played in the signal box and was allowed to push back one of the levers......well, until I didn't have the strength to finish the job.

Bill needed to sit down, so we headed for the station cafe.
As with station cafes of old, nothing very gourmet on offer. We had mugs of tea and a Danish pastry.

No, the outside had not suddenly become shrouded in thick fog.
My photograph is against the bright low sun, through the rather dirty window. I saw the prospect of an atmospheric shot of the men up on the station footbridge.

I realised that we had done enough for one day... And just  as well we had decided against going to Sheffield Park Gardens. Cars were crammed along the grass verges all along the road - except for the two which had suffered a minor "prang". They were causing a bit of a blockage at the gates to the gardens.
Our visit to the gardens must wait for a mid week day.

I finish with another Remembrance Day picture.
There were a couple of vintage motor bikes outside the station.

Somewhere a vintage motor bike enthusiast was being a steam train enthusiast and remembering..
In his absence, Bill cheekily enjoyed sounding the horn!